For years, U.S. investigators have been calling for more automation on motor vehicles, such as sensors that slam on the brakes to prevent a crash.

At the same time, the National Transportation Safety Board, in its probes of transportation mishaps, has warned that such devices may also have a down side: the technology can confuse operators if it’s poorly designed or lead to complacency that breeds its own hazards.

Now, for the first time in a highway accident, those two potentially contradictory themes will be put to the test as the NTSB opens an investigation into a fatal accident involving a Tesla Motors Inc. sedan that was driving with a feature called Autopilot enabled.


“It’s very significant,” said Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety advocacy group in Washington. “The NTSB only investigates crashes with broader implications.”

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NTSB Questions If Current Raft Of Safety Aids Is Simply Breeding Complacent Drivers

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